A Terrible Crime is DiscoveredSeptember 7 in France ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C
After 8 days on the boat, I would be lying a little if I said that we were sorry to be leaving the confines of our cabin. It is not exactly easy to live in a space about the same size as a dwarf's coffin. Although each person evolves their own survival strategies for storing their gear, washing themselves and doing their laundry, as the week progresses it is normal for each person to start fantasizing about what they are going to do when they get to a hotel room. "I can't wait to see inside my case again", "I am going to spend an entire hour under the shower", "I will wash my socks and undies for the first time in a week"," I haven't brushed my teeth since leaving Melbourne", and so on.
By 8 am our riders were dragging their cases up the winding stairs from the cabins to the main deck. With so little room to move , it was a miracle that no one was crushed under the weight of a falling suitcase. Three men helped Carol and Sam manouevre their bulging bags to the deck. It was obvious that our time on the boat had drawn to a close.
I advised everyone to do a double check of their rooms to make sure that no tiny item had been overlooked. A few minutes later Sam poked her head up the staircase to announce that she had found that Carol had left about half of her belongings in the drawer under the bed. That was the reason her case only weighed 19 kg. Some time later Carol had retrieved several kg more of her (nearly) lost luggage and we started saying our final goodbyes to our new American friends.
The strange thing is that, after a few days, we will all forget the difficult aspects of boat living, and then only recall all the laughs and fun we shared together. Next year we will back on another bike and barge along the Moselle.
It was only as we were starting to drag our cases to the shore that things took a dark turn. Arie appeared with a look of shock and anger on his face. "Three of the ebike locks are missing", he shouted. We looked at each other, wondering why anyone would want to add a 3 kg chain and lock to their already heavy suitcases. "This has never happened before", he added. It was apparently a very serious matter. In Europe wars have apparently started over less serious issues.
We all then embarked on a hue and cry to look for the missing chains. Panniers were stripped, cupboards were opened, guilty ebike riders were questioned under a bright light. Locks were counted and recounted, but the total was still three short. I thought that the brilliant Inspector Clouseau might be rushed from Paris to help crack the infamous case of the stolen locks. After all, this had all the makings of an international incident involving France, Australia, the USA and Holland. Although Donald Trump would probably downplay it as "fake news", it was becoming quite stressful for us.
After an interminable period of searching and hypothesizing about the location of the missing locks, I came to the conclusion that they were probably somewhere on the bottom of the canal. Arie had no choice other than to admit that they had truly disappeared and he reluctantly allowed us to leave the boat. It was a slightly disappointing end to a fun ride, but I am sure that they will turn up somewhere and the tarnished reputation of the Ghostriders will be rightfully restored.
We then formed a luggage peloton to drag our bags across the city to the hotel we had booked for the next two nights. In spite of a few rough cobblestoned sections, we all managed to reach the Hotel Chez Carriere without suffering a serious castor malfunction. The hotel is situated in an ideal location, right near the centre of the old walled city. It will make a lovely temporary base of operations while we explore the town.
The name Aigues Mortes means "Dead Waters" and the swampy region has been used as a place to harvest salt since Roman times. The large areas of marshland also make it an ideal breeding ground for hungry mosquitoes. The recorded history of the town dates back thousands of years and the huge fortified city wall that now stands here played a significant role in the Crusades of the 13th century.
The pilgrims and penitents that helped establish the city must have been a very colourful bunch. Over the past few days we have discovered chapels for the "White Penitents", the "Black Penitents" and even the "Grey Penitents". I am not sure exactly what a "grey penitent" is, but perhaps they were a sort of medieval fence sitter. The only thing missing was a chapel for the rainbow penitents, but I guess they came several centuries later.
Maggie and I spent most of the afternoon wandering the narrow streets of the old city. The town has an inordinate number of cafes and art galleries, obviously catering largely for tourism. In the cool of the evening these outdoor cafes are packed with diners, and the streets echo with the sounds from numerous buskers. I am sure we will all return to Australia with amazing memories of our time spent here. The name might mean dead waters, but the place ceratinly seems full of life to me.Read more